High blood pressure can often present no symptoms and may go undetected until your blood pressure reaches a dangerous level. Most patients do not visit their family doctor regularly. In fact, patients often visit their primary care physician once every few years or only when they are sick. Meaning, many patients could be walking around with high blood pressure that is not only undetected but also untreated. However, if you are visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, chances are, the dentist is keeping a watch over your blood pressure readings. For this reason, the dentist is more likely to identify high blood pressure, more so than your regular physician.
What do your blood pressure readings mean? A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers, systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). As the heart pumps blood throughout the body, blood flow pushes against the vessel walls with a certain amount of pressure. This pressure is known as the systolic reading. A systolic reading above 140 typically indicates hypertension (high blood pressure).
The diastolic pressure reading indicates the pressure of blood flow against vessel walls between each heartbeat. A diastolic reading between 80-85 is within normal range, but anything above 99 is considered high blood pressure. Diastolic hypertension is usually related to age, due to wear and tear of the heart’s arteries. What else can cause high blood pressure? An unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, stress, and even sleep disorders may increase one’s risk of developing hypertension. Specifically, lack of exercise can lead to high blood pressure.
Why is tracking your blood pressure good for your health? Hypertension causes heart attacks, stroke, and even kidney failure, which is why heart disease is known as the “silent killer.” Dentists often take their patient’s blood pressure readings before and after dental treatments as a part of the patient’s overall health plan. Also, high blood pressure is a common symptom to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Sleep Breathing Disorders (SBD). If your dentist discovers you have high blood pressure, he or she is likely to refer you to your primary care physician for treatment.
Another reason the dentist monitors your blood pressure is to ensure your safety during procedures that require the use of anesthesia. It is also important that the dentist be aware of any blood pressure medications that a patient takes. Blood pressure medications may affect the numbing process during a procedure and affects how much a patient may bleed during procedures such as an extraction. The dentist could indirectly save your life just by taking your blood pressure.
To schedule your next dental checkup or cleaning, contact Dr. Stuart Levy’s office. For nearly 30 years, Dr. Levy and his team have been taking patient care to the next level by not only providing excellent care and results but ensuring the safety of their patients during every procedure. Contact Dr. Levy today for your next appointment. We welcome patients from Cincinnati and Blue Ash, OH.